Who Invented the Balloon?

The dream to rise above the earth, overcome gravity and approach the Sun has been living in the human soul since ancient times. Historical facts are known that indicate that even in ancient Rome and China, the first attempts were made to do this by means of containers filled with smoke. In the Middle Ages, they continued, but the resulting balloons were small, short-lived and unable to lift anything else besides themselves. Who invented the high lift balloon that can carry extra weight? It all began at the end of the 18th century in France, which can be considered the birthplace of aeronautics.

Beginning of path

It all began on June 5, 1783, when the sons of the French paper industrialist Montgolfier created a huge ball of paper with a volume of 600 cubic meters. Through a grate of grape branches, he was filled with smoke from a fire and climbed 500 meters. After 10 minutes, when the smoke cooled down, the balloon landed 2 km from the launch site.

Having worked all summer on improving the design, the Montgolfier brothers sent the first living souls on the flight on September 19, 1783: a ram, a rooster and a duck. And on November 21, two French noblemen ventured into the air in a fairly strong and reliable basket. Having flown 9 km at an altitude of 1000 meters, they, together with the balloon, returned to the ground unharmed and began to be revered as heroes.

But the Montgolfier brothers weren't the only ones who invented the first balloons. In parallel with them, another Frenchman worked on the invention of the aircraft: the physicist Charles. He created a more promising model, using hydrogen instead of smoke, thereby significantly prolonging the stay of the structure in the air and making it possible for its more compact dimensions. On August 27, 1783, his invention - a ball with a volume of about 200 cubic meters made of silk soaked in rubber, successfully lifted off the ground and, having covered a distance of 28 km, landed safely in almost an hour.

Further work

Jacques Charles continued to work on his aircraft. He introduced improvements that increased the strength of the balloon's envelope and made the flight somewhat safer. He invented a way to measure and control altitude in flight and during landing. His innovations, a rope net for a ball, sandbags for ballast, a gas valve, an air anchor, made his aircraft a real vehicle that allows him to travel long distances quickly and safely.

The only drawback, explosive hydrogen, was replaced over the years by safe helium, but continued to be used on unmanned charlier aircraft. In Russia, the first flight of a balloon and a man took place in 1804 in St. Petersburg. Then balloons were used mainly for scientific research.

Improvement of aircrafts was carried out in the future. Currently, balloons are not only a means for practical purposes, but also a beautiful and popular sport. And the first scientists who invented the balloon remained forever in the history of aeronautics and human memory.